Tradition vs. Change
What a beautiful tradition it is to bring the outside within our homes at the holidays, featuring trees, wreaths and garlands. Who doesn’t have a photo with the family in front of the Christmas tree?
The choice we make as to whether we buy a real tree or an artificial one does have an impact on the world our birds call home. Manufacturing these trees requires fossil fuels. This means, when they are trashed within a landfill, they will not decay. Overseas manufacturing and shipping processes also leave a large carbon footprint.
Sounds like a real Christmas tree is the most environmentally friendly answer. Grown right here in our state of Michigan, the trees produce oxygen while they are growing as well as sequestering carbon. Tree farms will use the same spaces to plant again after harvest, a sustainable way to farm.
Things to Consider
If you are buying a real tree, there are some important factors to consider.
Ask your retailer these questions or research about their farm or shop – do they follow Integrated Pest Management practices and avoid the use of pesticides when possible, and do they practice water conservation?
Just as we have experienced with firewood, real trees used at the holiday can harbor non-native invasive pests. Trees that are grown in one area and then transported to be sold in another area may spread invasive pests such as gypsy moths, balsam woolly adelgid and Phytophthora ramorum, the fungus-like pathogen that causes sudden oak death.
The best way to minimize the chance of introducing a new pest to your neighborhood is by getting a locally sourced tree. Follow these tips:
- Purchase locally grown trees or greens for wreaths and garland.
- Cut down your own tree from a local cut-yourself farm or nursery.
- Obtain a permit and cut your own tree from a local forest within 10 to 20 miles of your house.
- Buy a pre-cut locally sourced tree from an established local business.
- Don’t use invasive species such as Asian bittersweet in holiday decorations
And once you are done with the tree, place it in the yard as shelter for your Cardinals. After all, nothing looks better on an evergreen than a Cardinal!